Starkville, MS – Johnny Manziel threw for 311 yards and rushed for two touchdowns as 16th-ranked Texas A&M delivered a 38-13 drubbing of No. 17 Mississippi State in a key SEC West clash from Davis Wade Stadium.
Manziel finished with 129 rushing yards and completed 30-of-36 pass attempts in a nearly flawless display for Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 SEC), which piled up a whopping 693 total yards for the game and scored 24 unanswered points in the first half en route to its impressive result.
"Manziel, he is a ball player," Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks remarked afterward. "He did a great job managing the offense. They (Texas A&M) got the job done."
Ryan Swope contributed 121 yards on nine catches in the Aggies' seventh win in their last eight outings, while Ben Malena rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2) fell behind 31-0 in the third quarter in being dealt its second straight lopsided loss after a 7-0 start. The Bulldogs were handed a 38-7 throttling by top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa a week ago.
"That was as bad as of a performance that I think we've had here in a long time," said Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen of Saturday's setback.
Tyler Russell threw for 212 yards with one touchdown and one interception on 19-of-30 passing, with Chad Bumphis ending with 50 yards and a score on four catches in defeat.
Texas A&M's offense asserted its dominance right from the start, with Manziel engineering long touchdown drives on each of the Aggies' first three possessions to give his team a commanding 21-0 lead just over three minutes into the second quarter.
The prolific redshirt freshman accumulated 38 passing yards and 26 rushing on the opening series, a 10-play, 73-yard march highlighted by Manziel's 24-yard connection with Mike Evans to the MSU 12 on 3rd-and-2. Manziel later scrambled for nine yards to the Bulldogs' 1 before Malena knifed across the goal line on the next snap.
Texas A&M had its ground game humming on the subsequent touch. Thomas Johnson ripped off a 33-yard run into Mississippi State territory to begin the drive, and Christine Michael capped the nine-play, 79-yard sequence by breaking loose on a draw in a 3rd-and-11 situation. The 22-yard score extended the margin to 14-0 with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
Mississippi State again failed to get a stop on the Aggies' next trip, with A&M converting on third down on three occasions during the 11-play, 87-yard jaunt. On the last one, a 3rd-and-10 from the MSU 37, Manziel broke containment after first looking downfield to pass and wasn't brought down until reaching the end zone and staking the Aggies to a 21-point advantage with 11:57 left in the half.
"Johnny has the green light to take off when he wants," said Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. "He was able to do some great things with his feet this game, especially on third downs. We were also getting some great downfield blocks for him."
The Bulldogs mustered just 43 total yards over their initial three possessions, but finally generated some momentum on the fourth. A 15-yard Wildcat scamper by Dak Prescott on 3rd-and-5 moved Mississippi State into the red zone, though it would come up empty when Russell overshot his target in the end zone on fourth down from the Aggies' 11.
Texas A&M promptly went 83 yards in 10 plays, with Manziel starting things off with a 30-yard completion to Swope and going 5-for-6 for 59 yards on the series, which ended in a Taylor Bertolet 24-yard field goal that enabled the Aggies to eventually take a 24-0 lead into intermission.
The Aggies kept on rolling after the break, grinding out 75 yards on nine plays to christen the third quarter. Manziel came through with a pair of long runs on the march, a 19-yard scramble on 3rd-and-7 that moved the chains and a 23- yard keeper to the Bulldogs' 4 that set up Michael's 1-yard plunge for a 31-0 score.
Mississippi State would finally get on the board midway through the third quarter. Russell found Smith for a 42-yard gain to ignite a four-play, 58-yard sequence that culminated with a 14-yard touchdown strike to Bumphis with 8:01 left in the period.
Russell was intercepted by De'Vante Harris at the Texas A&M 13 on the Bulldogs' following drive, but the Mississippi State defense forced an errant field goal try from Bertolet shortly afterward and pulled within 31-13 on Russell's 4-yard touchdown run with 9:11 left, wrapping up a nine-play, 75- yard jaunt in which the MSU triggerman went 5-for-5 for 48 yards through the air.
Russell couldn't make good on a 2-point conversion attempt while under pressure, however, keeping the Bulldogs' deficit at 18 points.
The Aggies had little problem moving downfield on their next touch, however, with Malena accounting for 52 yards (30 rushing, 22 receiving) on a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Manziel taking it in from eight yards away with just under six minutes to play for the game's final score.
The teams were meeting for the first time since the 2000 Independence Bowl, dubbed the "Snow Bowl" after a freak blizzard that hit Shreveport on game day. Mississippi State, which won 43-41 in overtime, wore all-white uniforms to commemorate the contest ... Texas A&M has now scored a touchdown on its opening drive in six straight games ... The game was the first at Davis Wade Stadium pitting two ranked teams since Sept. 20, 2011, when No. 17 MSU hosted 18th-ranked South Carolina ... The Bulldogs have now lost nine consecutive games against ranked teams and are just 2-15 when facing such foes during Mullen's four-year tenure.